June 20, 2013 at 10:14 AM
Summer arrives in Seattle today at 10:04 p.m. Why not celebrate the delicious long summer days ahead with a bird walk?
Eastside Audubon is offering birding tours at Marymoor Park in Redmond. Birdsong continues for hours on the long summer nights. Enjoy it with Eastside Audubon president and master birder Andy McCormick on a level, two mile walk, beginning at 6:30 p.m.
The walk begins at parking lot D and will end at 9 p.lm., or when the birds call it a night. Parking is $1. Bring binoculars and a snack. All ages are welcome, but kids 17 and younger should come with an adult.
June 14, 2013 at 7:00 AM
The moment I found the hive, I had a hunch. And while I’ll never really have conclusive proof, I still have my suspicions and some interesting new natives in my backyard.
The story goes like this:
I have several plum trees, and they have flowered for several years now, but each year the number of plums the trees produced was a pittance. On our best year, I think we got four. The same goes for my cherry tree.
All of a sudden this year I noticed that the trees have scads of small plums hanging on most every branch. I thought the reason was that the trees had matured to the point where they were able to produce fruit, but I was mowing the lawn and came up with another possible answer.
I was mowing beside a birdhouse that hangs on my fence. I turned off the mower and to my surprise I could hear the birdhouse humming.
My instant reaction was, “Oh no.”
I looked in the hole on the front of the birdfeeder and saw what looked like little bumblebees, but a little more than half the size of the ones I grew up with in the Midwest. They had coloration fairly typical for a bumblebee with one striking difference, their butts were deep orange.
With some help from the Internet and Scott Black, Executive Director at The Xerces Society, my “Oh no” turned into “Excellent.”
June 11, 2013 at 10:25 AM
This post will be short and hopefully sweet, just like this little frog.
With so much being written in recent years about the decline of frog populations both around the region and around the world, I was just happy to see this Pacific treefrog, Pseudacris regilla, on a recent hike.
There is nothing quite like watching a spring sunset while listening to the sweet song of the male Pacifics as they attempt to serenade a mate. It’s my guess that this was likely a female based on the fact that she was more than an inch and half long, on the bigger side for Pacifics.
She was fairly patient with me, letting me get close enough to get a decent photo. Despite being called a tree frog, you usually find them on or near the ground.
In a world where scientists occasional question the survival of some amphibians, the numbers on Pacific treefrog populations are mostly good news. It’s listed as having a stable population, and that bodes well for forest diversity and future sunsets.
June 6, 2013 at 6:04 PM
The Lummi Nation rocked the house last week with a sold-out performance at Bellingham High School of What About Those Promises? an original historical stageplay about the tribe’s way of life and connection to nature, and how both were disrupted by promises broken in the Treaty of Point Elliott, signed in 1855.
More than 800 people packed the high school auditorium the evening of June 1 and the tickets, at $10 a piece to benefit the Lummi Youth Academy, sold out. Who says the public doesn’t care about history?
Nationally renowned law professor Charles Wilkinson provided the history of the treaty made, and the promises broken, including the incredible story of the tribe’s refusal to take the paltry settlement offered by the U.S. Government in a long-running dispute over lands promised in the treaty, but left out of the Lummi reservation.
Elder Tom Sampson set the tone with a creation story that explains how the tribe is inseparable from the natural world that sustains its spiritual and cultural life. Listeners of course knew where all this is headed, if they know any history at all, yet the play is powerfully affecting.
Traditional songs by the Crab Bay Singers and a wolf dance transport the listener to a distinctly native sensibility, as do the sounds of the tribe’s language, in soliloquies by native speakers.
Just as affecting are the members of the cast playing the roles of clam digger, fishermen, sea lion hunter and berry picker, and their pleas to Gov. Isaac Stevens, as he pushes the tribe to sign the treaty, to understand the importance of the animals, the plants, the clams and the land to the people’s way of life. All the while, a desperate Chief Seattle urges the tribesmen gathered at the treaty council grounds not to sign…but they do.
Produced by tribal council member Darrell Hillaire and directed by Dennis Catrell, the production is based on an original stage play by the late Joseph Hillaire. Historical images from the tribal archives and other sources, projected on a large screen behind the players, add to the production’s power.
The tribe has agreed to put the play on again to conclude its annual Stommish Water Festival, June 13-16.
What About Those Promises? will be be performed at 7 p.m. at the Event Center at the Silver Reef Casino on Sunday, June 16.
The casino is on Haxton Road, reached from exit 260 off I-5, outside Bellingham.
June 4, 2013 at 7:00 AM
Peak spring snowmelt flows will hit the Elwha soon, notes Andy Ritchie, restoration hydrologist for the Olympic National Park. And that means a whole lot of sediment coming out of the Elwha River, where one dam has been removed, and the other, Glines Canyon Dam, about 8.6 miles upriver, is in the bulls eye.
Dam removal on the Elwha is on hold while repairs are made to a water plant needed to manage increase sediment loads. But meanwhile, the Elwha is busily chewing away at the sediment already unleashed by the dam removal so far.
In all scientists estimate 34 million cubic yards of sediment will be mobilized by dam removal on the Elwha. About 40 percent of it is expected to stay behind in the watershed, in stepped down terraces along the valley walls.
But the rest is expected to be eroded out by the river to the nearshore environment and beyond, where it is already building up bars and beaches at the river mouth
Here’s a recent photo from Tom Roorda, pilot at Port Angeles, who took this photo last week:
But just how much is 34 million cubic yards, anyway? I have never been able to imagine it … but Ritchie gave it some thought, and came up with these calculations:
“In terms of football fields, including the end zone, it looks like it would fill an American football field 3 miles high.
June 3, 2013 at 6:03 PM
What is to be the long term conservation strategy for marbled murrelets? The secretive seabird that nests in old growth trees has been managed under an interim policy on state timber lands since 1997. But hearings start this week on a long term strategy being crafted by the state Department of Natural Resources.
The first hearing is Wednesday in Olympia from 5 to 7 p.m. in room 175 of the Natural Resources Building. It’s the only hearing in the central Puget Sound region, the others are in Forks, Sedro Woolley, and South Bend, Pacific County.
At stake is striking the right balance between logging revenues and the preservation of a federally threatened species that continues to decline in population by as much as eight percent per year.
More information, including a full hearing schedule and comprehensive science report is on the DNR website.
I’ll have more on the issue this week in The Seattle Times.
May 29, 2013 at 11:13 AM
This Memorial Day weekend passed without dreadful news such as the death of a black bear killed by a car on I-90, as occurred last year at this time. (The driver sped from the scene, unharmed.) The photo from that sad event lives online if you insist, but I am not posting it here.
Work is underway on both the over and under crossings on I-90 from Lake Kacheless to Hyak that will make the highway safer both for people and for wildlife.
Be sure to check the blasting schedule on the WSDOT website or you could get stopped for hours as crews detonate the rock face where they are working.
And as you drive the I-90 corridor through Snoqualmie Pass this summer, keep an eye out for wildlife. If you see an animal, dead or alive, in your travels through the pass, report it at I-90 Wildlife Watch.
Launched in November, 2010, the wildlife watch is a citizen-based wildlife monitoring project inviting drivers to report wildlife sightings along I-90 in the Snoqualmie Pass region. The data is intended to be used by WSDOT in monitoring how wildlife are using the I-90 corridor today, and how that might change once the crossings are in place.
The results from last year’s report are in: nearly 280 animals were reported, 85 percent of them live, including deer, elk, black bears, cougars, coyotes,foxes, wolves, otters, mice, hare, raccoons, skunks, woodrats and one cow, as well as several bird species. Raccoons were the only animals that were more often reported dead than alive. I can’t explain the cow.
As I reported in the Seattle Times, you would never guess the profusion and diversity of wildlife just beyond the whizzing maelstrom of the interstate.
May 28, 2013 at 4:20 PM
There’s a new eaglet in town. Here’s its baby picture, the original photo sourced from Union Bay Watch:
I am a huge fan of this blog, in which Larry was tracking the fate of Eva, the eagle left behind after her mate Eddie was killed by a bus in August, 2011 on the 520 bridge. Life has gone on, as it always does, and spring has brought a new eaglet. Here’s the post.
May 24, 2013 at 1:13 PM
If you haven’t made a trip to Washington’s east side yet for your spring desert wildflower treat, it is not too late.
Covering more than 100,000 acres, a trip to the state L.T. Murray wildlife area last week outside of Yakima rewarded with beauty both grand and beautiful. There are hundreds of primo desert hikes in Washington and this is surely one of them.
The toughness of the native plants that survive the blasting winds and frying heat of these canyon lands is a miracle of adaptation. A suite of strategies, working together, is what makes the elegant ecology of these plant communities sing in the wind and flower in searing sun.
It starts with a microbiotic crust that seals the soil from weeds and creates a rough surface that slows the wind to a boundary of stillness, just over the soil. That same roughness helps catch and what moisture does come to these arid lands.
The plants themselves deploy an ingenious battery of survival tactics. Stomata open only in morning and evening hours, to conserve moisture during the baking heat of the day. Stems bristle with wind baffling hairs; leaves are numerous and small, without the soft luxuriant surfaces of say, a maple tree. Here, tiny and tough is the modus operandi.
At this time of year, the fleeting beauty of flowers and soft new growth on the sage colors the canyon walls like no other time. Woven with the sound of wind and the song of meadowlark, spring bloom in the desert is one of the primo pleasures of the natural year.
On my visit last week, the balsamroot was starting to crisp, but much was still in luxuriant bloom.
May 22, 2013 at 7:00 AM
If you like the outdoors, there are a lot of reasons to like spring. One that would be near the top of my list is the fact that spring hikes often coincides with emergence of the butterflies.
The Pacific Northwest has so many. Admittedly, I’m not so good at knowing them by name, so for our readers with butterfly expertise, please feel free to chime in in the comments with common names, accounts and the Latin names if you know them.
And while my identification skills might be lacking, I sure do like seeing them flutter by as I walk. We did our best to get photos but it takes a photographer with a better set of lenses and more patience than me to catch quality images. The ones in this post come from a recent hike near Cashmere.
In terms of descriptions, I might as well start with the butterfly that is almost always first on my list in terms of being seen, the Mourning Cloak butterfly.
With chocolate brown wings edged in white, the Mourning Cloaks make up for their lack of splashy color with motion.
Despite there somber common name, my wife calls them the flamenco dancer butterfly. Wary and quick, they alternate between flapping their wings with furious rhythm and gliding and quick dramatic circles. The barely passable picture on the right marks my best of countless attempts to get one to sit still long enough for a shot.
For roughly the first three miles of our hike there was constantly at least one Mourning Cloak in view along with numerous other butterflies.
There were big bright tiger swallowtails and all sorts of medium-sized brown spotted butterflies, and occasional hordes of the small blues that always seem to cluster where water and lupines can be found together.
One dramatic butterfly we kept seeing in multiple locations and never sat still long enough for us to photograph was what I think may have been the Stella Orangetip which has cream-colored wings that appear to have been dipped in bright orange on the tips where the wing widens at the top.
There were more that flitted away too quickly to be mentioned. In all, they were a wonderful addition to the hike. So if you get a chance to get out this weekend, keep an eye out for butterflies and, if you’re lucky, maybe you can slow down long enough to just spend some time looking at them and their vast variety of color.
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